What Is A Spiritual Desert

God is our Shepherd is one of the most wonderful truths for us as Christians. He is a Shepherd who understands us and leads us to where we need to be in terms of our bodily, emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being. “He makes us lie down in lush pastures,” Psalm 23:1 says, “and leads me alongside calm rivers.” When we find ourselves in delightful settings like this, it is at these times that our hearts are closest to God's presence.

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But, if you're anything like me, it doesn't take long before you find yourself lost in the woods. I sometimes get distracted by circumstances that entice me to leave God's presence. It can even be downright sinful at times. But, most of the time, I wander because I'm bored with God. I'm just not as taken aback by Him as I was when He first took me to those lovely places.

The danger of roaming, though, is that we can sometimes go too far. We cut through the spiritual forest and head straight for the desert. We continue to wander, satisfied with the rest we obtained when we were near the peaceful waters. Then, somewhere along the line, the heat of our surroundings and the exhaustion of walking catch up with us. We get thirsty, and then we realize we've gone too far.

We're now stranded in the middle of the desert, without water or the strength to return. Our heart's goal is to return to the pleasant areas of God's presence, but we are too weak to do so because of the sin or circumstances that brought us to the desert. We're in the middle of a spiritual wilderness.

When your heart yearns for God's presence but you don't know where to look, you're imprisoned in a spiritual desert. It's when you've been sitting down to study God's Word for a long time, hoping to hear from Him, but the words have become lifeless. It's when you're with God's people every Sunday and you want to worship, but the songs or the sermon don't inspire you. It's when you continuously participate in God's things but only have sporadic encounters with His life-giving presence.

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David's prayer in Psalm 63:1-8 contains the response. David finds himself stuck in a physical desert in this passage. He's been on the run from Ruler Saul, who is attempting to assassinate him since God has designated David as Israel's next king. He eventually runs out of strength and water, but his spirit yearns to worship God. We can see a template for what to do when we find ourselves in a spiritual desert by looking to David's prayer.

My spirit will be filled as if I were eating fatty, rich food, and my tongue will sing praises to you with glad lips.

Step 1: Acknowledge

As we can see from verse 1 of David's petition, he acknowledges three things: God, his spiritual longing, and his current infirmity.

David begins his prayer by thanking God. However, he does not acknowledge God as a whole, but rather as an individual. “You are my God, O God.” David is admitting that he is aware of the relationship. He's admitting to himself who God really is.

Start your prayer by acknowledging who God truly is if you find yourself in a spiritual desert. He is the God of your people. He is a close friend of yours. He is the Lord of your life. He is your Redeemer. He is your Shepherd, and he is capable of leading you back to pleasant areas.

David confesses his spiritual hunger for God after acknowledging God. He is sincerely seeking God and recognizes the depths of his soul's longing for Him. He doesn't claim he longs for something God will do; rather, he longs for God as a person, for His presence, not for His power or gifts.

If you find yourself in a spiritual desert, tell God how much you desire Him. Don't ask Him to fix or do something for you. Declare your desire for Him and His presence.

Finally, David admits to his physical infirmity and the factors that lead to it. David want to be close to God, but his flesh is too weak due to the lack of water in the desert. Nothing within himself can provide the fortitude he requires to pursue his heart's desires.

When you find yourself in a spiritual desert, be honest with yourself about where you are physically, emotionally, spiritually, or psychologically. What brought you to that location? What drew you out of your comfort zone in the first place?

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Step 2: Remember

David then recalls a day when he was not in the wilderness in verse 2. He recalls a time in his life when, because he was so close to God's presence, he felt His force and weight. For him, this was the sanctuary—a location where God's presence could be felt and where God's people could worship Him. David was “beholding glory and power” in the sanctuary. When he recalls these tremendous moments of devotion, his heart is immediately reminded of what is true right now. Right now, God's love is better than life. God's love is greater than his surroundings, whether he is in the sanctuary or in the desert.

When you're stuck in a spiritual rut, think back to a time when you felt God's presence in your life. A time in your life when you felt the power and grandeur of God like you'd never felt before. Allow that experience to bring you back to the present moment and remind you that the God who was with you then is still with you now—His love is greater than life.

This is my baptism, in a sense. Every time I'm unimpressed with God, I think about that. My father had just been diagnosed with ALS, a deadly neurological condition with no effective treatment, when I was in my junior year of college. I stepped into the water in the midst of great brokenness—brokenness from sin's impact on the world, brokenness from my dying father, and brokenness from my sin against a Holy God. But I didn't stay in the wreckage for long. I rose from the waters as a new creation in Christ, just as Jesus did from the dead. In that time, I definitely recall experiencing the grace of Jesus, the love of the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit all around me. God's love was better than life back then, and it is still better than life now as I speak.

Step 3: Look Ahead

Even though David has a rich moment reflecting on a profound earlier experience of God's presence, it makes little difference to his current situation. He's still wandering about in the desert. But he's well aware that he won't be staying long. Look at the tense in which he begins to speak: future. He anticipates his worship of God beginning in verse 3 and continuing throughout the passage.

Take a glance ahead, just like David. Tell God, in confidence, that you know you're not where you want to be, but you're not going to be. Look forward to the time when you will be back in the pleasant areas near God's presence, with a heart yearning to worship the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, might, and mind.

Trust that God will provide you with living water for your soul as long as you remain in the desert. By adjusting your surroundings, your Shepherd may be able to guide you out of the desert and back to verdant pastures and calm rivers. He may also keep you in the desert and give you deep-water-drawing roots. Despite the fact that your circumstances remain the same, you enjoy the lovely location of God's presence since the desert no longer parches your soul as it once did.

What is the desert spirituality?

Desert spirituality is a way of seeking God characterized by the “desert theology” of the Old Testament, which is still central to the Judeo-Christian tradition, namely, God keeping his people wandering in the desert for 40 years and then calling them back into the desert as a testing ground, where they can experience a change of heart and, by proving themselves obedient to his ordering of human living, accept him as their Creator and Lord again.

In New Testament times, Jesus of Nazareth went to the desert following his vocation call for the same reason: to discover God's will and demonstrate his obedience (cf. Mark 1:12–13, Matthew 4:1–11, Luke 4:1–13).

As the epithet hermit accorded to those who adopt it indicates, the Christian eremitic vocation serves the same objective.

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St Anthony of Egypt is one of the most well-known early Christian figures for practicing desert spirituality (251-356). He lived as a recluse for ten years, practicing asceticism throughout his life and growing his own food.

The monastic life in community evolved from the life of a single person dedicated to seeking God in the desert, which is the first form of Christian monasticism, while the eremitic vocation continues to be a distinct method of seeking God even now.

In practice, this spiritual pursuit is pursued by asceticism and solitude prayer.

Centering prayer is practiced by some followers of desert spirituality, whether as eremitic or cenobitic monastics or as Christian faithful outside the religious life. One version of this prayer involves meditating on a single sacred word in order to bring the believer closer to God by removing compulsive infatuation with certain sensory things and intellectual constructs. As evidenced by works like The Cloud of Unknowing — written anonymously in Middle English by a Catholic monastic – this method was prevalent in Catholic practice (at least) as early as the 13th century.

What is the spiritual meaning of desert in the Bible?

Words that are translated as “Wilderness” appears in the Bible around 300 times. The years of adolescence in Hebrew are a formative memory “Wandering in the Wilderness” combines untamed landscapes, the yearning for a promised land, and spiritual encounters. The wanderings of the Pentateuch take place in the midbar, an uninhabited country where mankind live as nomads. In contrast to cultivated land, this frequent Hebrew phrase often refers to a wild meadow where domestic animals can graze and wild animals reside “Joel 1:19–20 says, “the wilderness pastures.” Another word is arabah, which can also be rendered as desert (Genesis 36:24) “The lonely and inaccessible country will rejoice, and the wilderness will rejoice” (Isaiah 35:1). Chorbah is a wasteland, while yeshimon is a land without water.

What does spiritual wilderness mean?

For all the peace and tranquility found in the Bible when it comes to enjoying creation, the desert can also be seen as a place of danger, fear, and discomfort. Loneliness, self-doubt, questioning, and despair abound in the desert. We've been knocked down and feel extremely alone.

What does Jesus in the desert teach us?

He has taught us to rid ourselves of the hidden corruption of evil by refusing the devil's temptations, and thus to eat his paschal supper in purity of heart until we reach its completion in the promised land of paradise.

Who are the desert mystics?

Desert Fathers were early Christian hermits who founded Christian monasticism by practicing austerity in the Egyptian desert beginning in the third century. These early monks took vows of austerity, prayer, and work, following in the footsteps of Jesus' life of poverty, service, and self-denial.

Who prayed to God in the desert?

Abba John the Dwarf was said to have said to his elder brother one day, ‘I would like to be free of all care, like the angels, who do not work but continually offer devotion to God.' As a result, he removed his cloak and fled into the desert.

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What does the desert symbolize on God's calling to Moses?

We learned various lessons about our significance in Christ from Moses' life this Sunday at CBC. In that regard, here's an excerpt from Pastor Frank Damazio's book The Making of a Leader, where he discusses Moses' summons. He reveals a wealth of concepts from Moses' calling that are relevant to our identity in Christ. Pastor Frank's primary focus is on leadership, but this message will encourage all believers.

Moses is one of the Old Testament's most fascinating characters. “And there arose no prophet since in Israel like the man Moses, whom the Lord recognized face to face,” Deuteronomy 34:10 says. Moses was clearly a man who had a special relationship with the Lord.

“By faith Moses was hid three months by his parents when he was born, since they realized he was a proper kid, and they were not afraid of the king's prohibitions,” says Hebrews 11:23. Moses was a man of faith from the moment he was born. His parents believed in the God of their forefathers. Exodus 2:1-10 is the Old Testament narrative of this. The lines that follow don't tell us anything about what happened during Moses' early years. However, with the help of Scripture and history, we can begin to comprehend some of what occurred.

Moses was raised in the royal household after being adopted and raised in the house of Pharaoh's daughter. “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds,” says Acts 7:22. We can see from this passage that while in the royal house of Pharaoh, Moses had access to all of the known world's education. Tutoring the son of Pharaoh's daughter would have been a honour for any university or tutoring scholar.

Egypt was one of the most prolific and progressive countries in the known world at the time, with educational achievements considerably exceeding those of any other country. Their social and economic lives were also well-developed. Even now, the mathematical perfection of Egypt's huge pyramids confounds even the most educated builders in the world. Moses was raised in this milieu since he was a child.

Josephus, an ancient Jewish historian, presents one narrative of Moses that reveals his power and ability. Ethiopian soldiers attacked and were about to inflict a catastrophic loss on Egypt, according to Josephus. Moses was reportedly given the task of leading the Egyptian soldiers in an attempt to preserve the country from a terrible catastrophe. Moses is said to have led the soldiers into battle and won a huge victory. If this report is correct, it provides a good picture of the man Stephen described as “powerful in words and deeds” (Acts 7:22).

When we look at the scriptures about Moses, it is clear that the Lord must have spoken to him throughout his early years of existence. “By faith Moses, after he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, preferring to suffer hardship with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the delights of sin for a season,” says Hebrews 11:24-26.

This reference makes it apparent that Moses had to make a difficult life decision. Between royalty and peasantry, he had to pick. Moses had to choose between Egypt's wealth, power, influence, and glory and the enslavement of his own people, the Israelites. Would he identify with Egyptian monarchy or with his own people's enslavement?

“By faith Moses forsook Egypt, not dreading the king's wrath, for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen,” says Hebrews 11:27. Moses took this life-altering decision when he was forty years old. To say the least, Moses' decision challenged and transformed his life. He killed the Egyptian who was abusing a Hebrew in order to save him from a harsh thrashing. Moses' personal forty-year wilderness wanderings began as a result of this. Why would God choose a wilderness to prepare a people's leader? When it comes to interacting with His servants, God's ways are always different and often opposing to man's ways.

Anyone would have found the shift from Pharaoh's regal courts to the rear of the desert difficult. But God had a plan for Moses' development; he was going to put Moses through some divine stripping for a few years. Moses had spent forty years in Pharaoh's court studying all of man's wisdom, ways, strength, and equipment. In a way, he had all of Egypt's academic degrees at his disposal. The Lord God of Israel, on the other hand, was not going to adopt Egyptian means to rescue His people from slavery. Moses' Egyptian wisdom would be stripped away, and God would begin to shape him for a mission that only God's wisdom could fulfill through him.

Moses spent forty years shepherding his father-in-sheep law's on the backside of the desert. He couldn't even claim to have his own flock of sheep. He was nothing more than a simple herdsman tending to another man's sheep. Furthermore, Moses' wife was just a regular desert woman. She was nothing like the Egyptian regal young maidens he could have married. “What was God's purpose in all of this?” is a normal question to ask at this stage. God was completely stripping the man he was about to utilize to tremendous use.

The effectiveness of all of God's strippings was demonstrated in Moses' response to God's call at a later time. Moses was deprived of his self-confidence and Egyptian pride, as we will see shortly. With these attitudes, he would have been unable to complete the task that God had given him. Moses would need to know that God, not man, was the source of his strength for the momentous mission he was about to undertake. God has a desert for all of His slaves, just as He did for Moses, that He will use mighty. The process of stripping is part of God's plan for anyone who will respond to the Lord's call. A leader must not question God's call and preparation process.

The call of Moses is described in Exodus 3:1-11. Moses was on the other side of the desert when he was summoned. Moses was tending sheep in the parched desert, just like any other day's work would have demanded. “And the Lord's Angel appeared vnto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush: and behold, the bush burnt with fire, yet the bush was not consumed,” says Exodus 3:2.

The fact that the bush had not been consumed drew Moses' attention, and he turned around to see what this weird phenomenon was. “And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see,” Exodus 3:4 says, “God spake unto him out of the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses.' And Moses said, ‘Here am I.” When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, He told him to come closer so that He might speak to him.

The Lord revealed to Moses His plan to free the children of Israel from Egyptian slavery. Because of their Egyptian taskmasters, the children of Israel were in severe anguish, affliction, and mourning, according to God. Because Moses was well aware of the children of Israel's condition, he did not hesitate to concur with the Lord that Israel urgently required assistance. Moses' agreement with the Lord demonstrated that he felt a strong responsibility to his people.

What is the difference between desert and wilderness?

During the day, the desert is frequently hot and dry, while at night, it is often freezing. Wilderness can be defined as a place with few human occupants, or as an area that has been left in a “wild” or “natural” state, or as one that has been restored to that form.